The Gilchrist County Board of County Commissioners, in and for Gilchrist County, Florida, convened in a special meeting on March 11, 1997, at 4:50 p.m., in the Pavilion at Hart Springs Park, Trenton, Florida, with the following members present to-wit:

Sue B. Suggs, Chairman

Wilbur Bush

Jimmie Sheffield

Randy Durden

Fred Wilkerson

Other persons in attendance were: Joseph "Joe" Gilliam, Ex-Officio Clerk, Ted Burt, County Attorney, Sherree Pitzarell and Sam Ferguson, Deputy Clerks, Ron McQueen, EMA/County Coordinator, Sheriff David P. Turner, Chief Deputy Sheriff Harvey Montgomery, Duke Lang, City of Trenton Attorney, David Branson and Johnnie Martin, Florida Power Corporation, Gary Martin and Ron Bivens, Wacasassa Volunteer Fire Department, Bud Riffle, North Gilchrist Volunteer Fire Department, Eric Gentry, Michael Hardin and Jim Helms, State Department of Emergency Management, Leigh Hildebrandt, Communications Coordinator Gilchrist County Sheriff's Department, Sable Bolling and Wesley Asbell, Gilchrist County Public Health Unit, Kathryn Deen, Trenton City Manager, Charlotte Kearney, Al Milito, Billy Rogers, and Cloud Haley, Trenton City Commissioners, Bill Brideson, Civil Defense Director, Buddy Joyner, Transportation Superintendent, Mike Edwards, Trenton City Police Chief, Peggy Sapp and Gerald Blackwell, Bell Town Council, Marvin Weaver, County Extension Agent, George Cole and Don Alexander, Spring Ridge Volunteer Fire Department, Becky Sanford, Cheryl Nekola, and Carol McQueen, Fanning Springs City Council.

Chairman Suggs stated that the purpose for holding this "Public Officials Conference" was to afford the opportunity for the Department of Emergency Management to meet with the various town councils and the Board of County Commissioners at one time, to update and explain to the Board the Department's mission.

Mr. Eric Gentry, Department of Emergency Management spoke to those in attendance, explaining that 70% of the national disaster funds are spent in California and Florida. The primary phases of emergency management are preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation. Their primary mission is to ensure that Florida is prepared to respond to disasters. According to Mr. Gentry, there is a great shelter deficit in the state and they ask that each county address this problem in their five year plan. Mr. Gentry concluded with an overview of the Department's emphasis for 1997: continue mitigation and long term recovery, maintain response and recovery activities with emphasis on non-natural disasters, out-of-state mutual aid, and cost sharing/incentive programs.

Following the conclusion of DEA's presentation, the group recessed for dinner and reconvened for a multi-governmental meeting to discuss issues of mutual concern.

Gerald Blackwell, mayor of the Town of Bell, requested assistance from the county for improving Jones Street in Bell. According to Mr. Blackwell, by improving Jones Street, some of the school traffic in Bell may be alleviated and the Town of Bell requests that the county provide labor and equipment.

Mr. Blackwell commented that the 30 feet of right-of-way was recently deeded to the county, and asked why the ROW was not deeded to the Town of Bell (road near the school). Mr. Johnnie Martin stated that he and others who deeded the ROW to the county knew that the Town of Bell did not have sufficient funds to pave the road. They felt that the county would be in a better position to do the road paving.

In addition, Mr. Blackwell asked that the County Commission had a staff person who could assist the town of Bell with grant applications.

Chairman Suggs stated that the County is working with the Small County Technical Assistance Program, and a representative is expected to attend the next county commission meeting. They have indicated that they could assist the county with writing grant applications and may also be able to assist the cities.

Ms. Peggy Sapp, Bell Town Council reminded the Board that windows and screens are needed for the club house (old voting precinct) and over 200 people use the building each week. Chairman Suggs stated that the County has already expended funds on that building in the recent past and in addition to the club house, there are other county buildings in need of repairs, however, the County does not have funds available to make any of those repairs at this time. Ms. Sapp stated that the lights on the porch and in the bathroom need to be repaired/replaced and the floors need work. Chairman Suggs stated that the County could send it's maintenance worker to check on the lights, however, there are no funds available at this time to repair the floor.

Ms. Carol McQueen reported that the City of Fanning Springs ISTEA project is going to be funded and they expect to receive a half mile of sidewalks installed by DOT. The Rails to Trails project is expected to be funded in the year 2000. A company is looking at building a 16 unit condominium on the banks of the Suwannee and a public hearing has been scheduled to receive public comment. The Suwannee River Water Management District has indicated that they are not in favor of the project. Ms. McQueen reported that the city of Fanning will soon be conducting a feasibility study for a sewer and water treatment plant, which may involve spray fields on the Gilchrist County side. The city of Fanning is also interested in developing a downtown area, other than U.S. 19.

Ms. Becky Sanford, Fanning Springs city council stated that she would like to see summer activities incorporating the Suwannee River.

Ms. Cheryl Nekola stated that the old rail road tracks (to be used for the Rails to Trails project) are being used by motorized vehicles, which could present a safety problem. Mr. Burt, county attorney, suggested that they report the problem to the Department of Environmental Protection.

Billy Rogers, Mayor, City of Trenton, spoke to those in attendance regarding the annual 4th of July celebration. According to Mayor Rogers, the city spent $9600 last year on the event. The cost has increased every year, and the city would like to recover some of the costs. Mr. Gilliam, Clerk of Court, suggested that the vendors pay a fee for setting up a booth. It was also suggested that the city could do some advertising or seek corporate sponsors. Ms. Deen, Trenton City Manager, complimented Commissioner Cloud Haley and Police Chief Mike Edwards for their hard work in making the event a success last year. Commissioner Haley stated that he would like to see representation for the county and other cities on their 4th of July planning committee.

Sheriff Turner addressed the county commission and town councils regarding animal control. He has met with the Humane Society and the cities of Trenton and Bell. The city of Trenton has two pens and for a county-wide animal program, many more holding pens would be needed. In 1996, the Sheriff's Department received 423 complaints, which did not include barking dog complaints. The Sheriff feels that Lancaster inmates could be used to feed and care for the animals. Mayor Rogers stated that the county needs one central holding facility, however, the city of Trenton can not afford to provide the facility. If a certain number of days have passed and the owner of the animal does not claim it, the animal must be disposed. This creates a paperwork and financial burden.

There followed general discussion regarding fire services throughout the county. It was agreed that a long range plan would be more beneficial than an quick fix. If fire control could be offered in conjunction with emergency medical services, special assessments could be a funding source for both services. Mr. Bud Riffle stated that the North Gilchrist Volunteer Fire Department will soon have a ground breaking on their new fire station and it could accommodate an EMS unit.

Chairman Suggs stated that the county road department performs the majority of the road work for Bell and Trenton, and the county would like each city to consider allowing the county to collect impact fees in the incorporated areas. Mr. Burt stated that impact fees are tied to growth and improvements necessitated by growth.

Mayor Rogers stated that the city would like to pave its roads so that the county would not have to grade in the city.

Commissioner Haley stated that any impact fees collected within the city limits should be spent in the city.

There being no further business to discuss, Commissioner Durden made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Sheffield to adjourn at 9:30 p.m. The motion carried unanimously.